FORT SMITH (KFSM)—A World War II veteran was awarded a Bronze Star Medal on Monday (Dec. 21) for his service in the military.
“The bronze star was issued to the people of my time for military service,” Staff Sgt. J. Lynn Hughes said. “I don`t think I have done anything except maybe survive.”
Congressman Steve Womack presented Hughes the bronze star for his service at a ceremony held at the Sebastian County Courthouse.
Hughes said the day after he graduated high school, he went into the service. After 17 weeks of training, he was transferred to the 70th infantry division at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Six weeks later he was sent overseas.
“We went to Boston and we sailed from Boston Harbor on December 1,” Hughes said. “We traveled southward to about the equator and then turned east and then sailed into Marcay, France.”
The 70th Infantry Division, represented by his pin with an ax, pine tree and snow topped mountain, had 178 men. Hughes says being one of the last infantry divisions formed, they were known as trailblazers.
“We had 38 killed, 102 wounded, but we had 38 who escaped,” he said. “Thirty-eight of us came back without a scratch. I`m one of them.”
To date, he says he's the only survivor left from his unit.
“Sad to lose them, but that's the way the cookie crumples,” Hughes said.
He moved to Fort Smith in 1958. He'll be turning 90-years-old next month. He had some words of advice for young people wanting to join the military.
“I would encourage them to go, and I think they need to go,” he said. “I`m proud to have been to serve my country.”
He tells 5NEWS his wife passed away 21 years ago, and is buried in the Fort Smith National Cemetery. Hughes said he plans to be buried with her someday too.